Are Americans ready for take-off? A rhetorical analysis of president George W. Bush and his administration's September 11, 2001, crisis communication rhetoric
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks created a noticeable decline in commercial aviation travel because Americans lost faith in the safety of the commercial airline system. Although a weakening in commercial airline travel is expected after a major airline crash, September 11 is unique is because the event was addressed by the President of the United States and his administration, not an airline CEO or corporate spokesperson. This study will examine the government's crisis communication rhetoric using Benoitâ€™s Image Restoration theory as the overarching framework. Benoit has developed a series of rhetorical strategies that an individual or institution can adopt to maximize its reputation or image after an attack: denial, evasion of responsibility, reduction of offensiveness, corrective action, and mortification. After using Benoitâ€™s image restoration lens to examine 30 speeches presented by President George W. Bush and his administration between September 11, 2001, and September 11, 2002, this study acknowledges that in some crisis scenarios multiple spokespeople are necessary and seemingly contradictory image restoration devices may at times compliment each other.
Thesis (M.A.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Elliott School of Communication